Friday, April 27, 2007
1. I have this intense craving for something sweet.
2. Listening to Enya. Don't think this is the kind of music i should listen to post lunch.
3. I need to refill my water bottle.
4. For a minute i forgot how to spell 'bottle'.
5. I am trying to get started on this report.
6. From four reports that needed submitting, i have come down to two.
7. No, i did not do all those reports today. They were done over a period of time.
8. So, i have only two more silly reports to go.
9. I need to look at the list of things that i can possibly do around here and shortlist it to two or three things.
10. I need to print my train ticket.
11. I am feeling lazy.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I don’t really feel like writing about my birthday. I am feeling very lazy at the moment. But if I don’t write now, I don’t think I will ever get to doing that.
Sapna, along with my brother was planning the surprise. Now, a couple of things about Sapna. It is very, very difficult for her to keep her mouth shut. And we both were sharing the apartment at that time. Besides, the planning for it started at least two weeks early. One golden rule here. Don’t plan a surprise for longer than a week. It is bound to get out.
The thing this time was, I wasn’t even out to spoil the surprise or anything like that. I am usually like that - kinda nose around and find out what is brewing. This time, I promise, I wasn't snooping around. I didn’t want to spoil it for my friends. And come on I am getting older now. Ha ha. Anyways, the point being, I didn't have to snoop around this time. The clues were presented to me on the platter. And only a fool would not figure out what is going on.
Actually, all that happened was a surprise. Just that each aspect of the surprise was gradually revealed and I was surprised in small steps. 'All' does not include the venue and the time. I knew that. And I suggested that time as that is when I would get back from work. Also, it would be easier if it were my apartment. So, it was held on my birthday in my apartment after I got back from work.
I didn’t know my mom was coming to town on my birthday! That was a surprise… Ah well, until the night before my birthday. When I was talking to my grandmother on the phone, she asked me what I wanted from home that she could send with mom! And I was like 'so when is mom coming?' There was utter silence after that. And the next day, when my cousin called to wish me he asked me if my had arrived. So, my suspicions were confirmed. that was one of the surprises that unfolded earlier than planned. Hence, it was a surprise nonetheless.
When I was coming back from work, I saw my brother's car parked out of the neighbourhood cake shop. And he walked in to the house a bit later with the cake and claimed that it wasn't the cake!
The people that turned up that day, many of them were surprises. The others I expected and I would have been surprised if they didn't turn up! That would have been a nasty surprise though. Oh, the people were supposed to be hiding upstairs and everybody was supposed to come in together. But then, some were misguided and landed up in my apartment while I was there!
The bottomline - I felt very loved and special! It was much better than I expected. Well, I wasn't expecting anything really, but it was one of the most memorable birthday 'surprise'.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade. (From Wikipedia)
The other day I had attended this Chennai City planning thing that was organized some days ago. While sitting there and discussing things, my eyes were opened to a lot of things. Not that I can do much just because my eyes are open extra wide - except to look and feel more helpless. Anyways, the thing is, I came out of the place realizing the way things are.
In order to clean up the city, we have been relocating the local slums to places that are 20 to 30 kilometers from the city - where their primary economic activities take place. Agreed that they are being given government housing, but at what cost? They cannot work anymore. If they want to work, they have to travel the distance! This is difficult enough with your own vehicle leave alone using the public transport system to get that far and back.
Their business activity is usually in the neighborhood. It is a symbiotic relationship here. The vendors that come selling our veggies in the morning, the local pavement shops, our helpers who come to cook and clean. We are dependant on them as much as they are dependant on us. And moving them out of the city means that this symbiotic relationship is cut.
That aside, I began to think of other ways that we have been putting these people out of business. We somehow prefer to shop in the new supermarket that has sprung up in the neighbourhood to the old neighbourhood store. There are vegetable supermarkets now; those snazzy vegetable places where you get all the vegetable under on roof! (Actually, I like these veggie supermarkets a lot.)
Anyways, I was trying to think of how we can support fair trade right outside our doorsteps (this is especially applicable to those in the 'developing' world). Some of this may mean sacrificing a bit of comfort and stuff. but I think it is worth it really.
Why not go to the local neighbourhood grocery store instead of the big supermarkets?
Advantage - the customer service is personal and friendly, and you can avoid those plastic smiles at the checkout counters. The service improves as the frequency of your visit increases. This is not so (usually) with the big supermarkets. They will know your preference. They will trust you and you can even have a credit account which will come in handy at the end of the month!
Disadvantage - you may not get you favourite international brand of spaghetti sauce here. But what the heck. You can buy the regular stuff here and keep those exotic stuff to your once in a way supermarket shopping. And actually, if you are going to be regular with that stuff, you can actually ask this guy to try and stock it for you!
Try visiting the local vegetable market or buy from the vendor instead of going to the veggie supermarket. (This is going to be the most difficult one for me to change.)
Advantage - If you are good at bargaining, you may get it real cheap. If you become a regular, you will get it cheap. You will be feeding a family (many of them rely on these small businesses to feed families). If you are buying it from the street hawker, you get to buy veggies right at your door step!
Disadvantage - You will have to bargain. You may get fleeced. You may have to travel a bit if you are going to the market. Street hawkers may be more expensive. But you are getting it at your doorsteps.
Window shop on the streets instead of malls.
Advantage - You will be feeding a family. You will get stuff for lesser.
Disadvantage - ah well, you may have to walk miles on end. You may end up with stuff that is of not so good a quality (but this ok with things that needn't be of great quality). Haggling.
Go in for fresh juice/tender coconut instead of bottled and/or aerated drinks.
Advantage - Really refreshing. Really healthy. Mostly cheap. No empty calories. No added flavours and colors and all that jazz. You get the real thing here.
Disadvantage - watch out for the water in fresh juice! You cannot just pull it out of the fridge and guzzle it. Alternately, you can think of making lime juice and storing it in the fridge. It is a bit of work but it is better than the artificial zing things.
Encourage small business when you see one.
Advantage - you are encouraging an entrepreneur. You may actually find a steal. You may end up feeding a family.
Disadvantage - you may end up with something you don’t want.
Well, that is all I could come up with. Let me know if you have any ideas. One warning though - please don’t buy something if you don't need it. Be it big shop guys of small shop guys, think before you buy. Do you really need it? Really, really need it?!
Happy shopping! And oh, don’t forget brand faithfulness. Be faithful to the local neighbourhood chap that has served the neighbourhood for decades!
Disclaimer: I am not saying you have to do any of this. And you don't even have to agree with this whacko idea of mine. But you are free to express your opinion.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Probably, i shall put in today's thought for the day.
Don't let fear steal your freedom to be. Don't let it limit your capacity to be you to your fullest potential.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Ok. I have made a decision. I am posting some of my favorite entries from my old blog. I will be sprinkling it in along with my regular postings. So here is the very first of the old ones. Hope you enjoy them.
Have you been in a situation where you feel that you are not being listened to? You are speaking a lot of things, but the people are not listening to you. They are either in their own world or they are busy jumping topics.
Well, I shut up for various reasons. But I do feel not listened to. I was thinking about it day before yesterday. Actually, even if you are allowed to speak your gut out and the people hear you out, you are still going to feel un-listened to.
The time you feel truly listened is when you are accepted for who you are – with all your blunders and stupid statements. Being listened to has more to do than the words you speak. It is to do with your heart and being accepted. It is more than and beyond the words you speak. If you actually look at it, you feel truly listened to when you don’t have to say anything at all.
Friday, April 06, 2007
The Women's Day celebration is over! This means that I don't have to travel much on my bike during work. This means that I can take the public transport to work.(I like the suburban train and do not like buses). The train is a better option for various reasons - the obvious being, it is economical (cuts down my travel expenses by less than 50%!!! I don’t have to stress myself with the traffic on the road. I can even read when traveling to work! And most importantly, I get to walk from the train station to work. Doing this has helped me build exercise into my routine. Well, now let us get on with the reason for this post which is not about money management or keeping yourself fit. There is more to life, yes?
Now, walking is a very interesting thing to do for the simple reason that it helps you slow down. I mean, really slow down. When you are riding a scooter, you sort of zip through life at about 40 - 50 km/hr. And when you travel by a car you are cocooned in a bubble and totally cut out from the rest of the world - well, in a sense. But when you walk, you come face to face with the world. The bustling life. The people. The faces. All your senses are awake. You see the vibrancy of the place - all abuzz with bright colors of nice fruits and vegetables and saris; the smells (may not always be pleasant); the sounds - people are busy, vendors trying to grab your attention, people chattering (you get a glimpse into the lives of these people and it makes you realise that they are people); the heat, the sweat, the grime, the energy pulsing through your veins. You can either call this an assault on your senses or you can call it experiencing life and all that it has to offer. I choose to call it experience...
As I get out of the train, I rush to the staircase before all the people mob it. That is the only way I can climb two stairs at a time and make it ahead of the crowd. I climb down the stairs. There are beggars and vendors sitting at the staircase landing. I do not usually give them anything. I rush past them. Sometimes, I force myself to look at their faces - just to remind me that they are people too. I walk out of the station. I walk at a brisk pace. Dodging cyclists, motorists and people as I try to cross the road.
Once I cross the road on my left are shops - lots of shops. Bakery, mobile phone recharge, household gadgets shop... Oh, there is a bank as well. Every time I walk past the post office I tell myself that I should write to my friend. You see, after I got my laptop, I have almost given up on writing letters. I say almost because I haven't entirely given it up yet. I will get around to do that sometime. I will…
On the other side are small vendors. A variety of small businesses flourish there. I get to know what fruit are in season just by walking through the market. Oh yes, I have to walk through the market area when I go to work. This includes walking through the fish market part of the market. On this one small road (which is supposed to be a one-way) you have cyclists, two-wheeler riders and sometimes even auto-rickshaws going both ways along with the pedestrians. This scene continues till I reach the big road.
A lot of them vendors have push carts. Many of them occupy part of the road and set their business on a tarp spread on the ground. At the time I arrive, some of these 'shops' are closed. It is too early for business. However, there is still a lot of activity going on. The grape vendor arranging the fruit on his cart, the fish vendors bringing in their wares from wherever they buy it wholesale. The green leafy veggies lady unpacking her sack of green leafy veggies… The whole place is abuzz. It is more so when I return from work in the evening.
I have a specific interest in the vendors. Especially if they are women. Will come to that at the end of this post.
There a is zebra crossing at the place where this small road joins the big road. The beauty of this zebra crossing is, it is across a six-lane road! And the whole traffic actually stops for the pedestrians (you would understand the significance of this if you live in a country like India)!! Even I have stopped a number of times for the pedestrians at this crossing when I ride my bike to work! Once I cross and walk a bit past a bus terminus, I get to walk on a decent stretch of side-walk - neatly tiled and all.
Here again I get to see certain things that is of interest to me. I get to see poverty. By the side of the bridge and under the bridge is a slum. This is a low-lying area and is very close to the river. This river is sewer for most part of the year and during the monsoons, it floods. I walk past these huts. I watch kids in school uniform in the morning. (That is a sign of hope!) Some washer men and women washing clothes - yes, in that dirty water. Little kids playing around. I walk past taking all these sights in. It is important I do.
I walk past the bridge and turn into this nice little neighbourhood - predominantly residential, but there are businesses too. And I walk into my office. To do my work. My work involves writing stories of poor women who do small businesses - micro entrepreneurs. I write stories of how the loan has transformed their lives. I plan along with the rest of the team as to how we can add value to the loan that we give them. This is hard-core business. The business of transforming lives the best that we know how. Business of partnering with micro-entrepreneurs to improve their businesses, the lives of their families and their communities. The job is not always as romantic as it sounds… It can be disillusioning sometimes. Most of the times.
Walking through the market gives me an idea of what our clients' lives would be like. As I walk past them every morning, I imagine about what their life back at home would be like. They cease being just vendors selling their wares. They become to me faces of people who have hopes, dreams and love in their hearts. Possibly they face hardships. Seeing the huts and sewer keeps me grounded to reality. Seeing children in school uniform gives me hope.
I don’t think I help them in a tangible sense by buying their wares. Well, sometimes I do - when I need something. And I don’t think they are looking for free hand outs either. But realizing that they are human helps me look at them and to respect them.
p.s. - I like walking for another reason. I think a lot when writing. A lot of my blog ideas have come when I am walking or riding my bike.
p.p.s. - I promise I will write about Women's Day sometime soon.
Currently listening to - Shout God's Fame by Hillsong London
Currently reading - Footprints of Faith by Sonya Svoboda & Enjoying God by Andrew Brandon
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
One is my birthday surprise and the other is International Women's Day celebrations that i event managed...
Meanwhile, why don't you guys say something about birthday surprises - surprises and spoilt surprises...
And what did you do on Women's Day this year?